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Friday, August 7, 2020

Technology Can Help Us, but People Must Be the Moral Decision Makers

Image for postAndrew Briggs
Originally posted 8 June 20

Here is an excerpt:

Many individuals in technology fields see tools such as machine learning and AI as precisely that — tools — which are intended to be used to support human endeavors, and they tend to argue how such tools can be used to optimize technical decisions. Those people concerned with the social impacts of these technologies tend to approach the debate from a moral stance and to ask how these technologies should be used to promote human flourishing.

This is not an unresolvable conflict, nor is it purely academic. As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, society is increasingly faced with decisions about how technology should be used: Should sick people’s contacts be traced using cell phone data? Should AIs determine who can or cannot work or travel based on their most recent COVID-19 test results? These questions have both technical and moral dimensions. Thankfully, humans have a unique capacity for moral choices in a way that machines simply do not.

One of our findings is that for humanity to thrive in the new digital age, we cannot disconnect our technical decisions and innovations from moral reasoning. New technologies require innovations in society. To think that the advance of technology can be stopped, or that established moral modalities need not be applied afresh to new circumstances, is a fraught path. There will often be tradeoffs between social goals, such as maintaining privacy, and technological goals, such as identifying disease vectors.

The info is here.